C U later Bluefield State.
Sarah Jones led an onslaught of heavy hitters, as Concord won its third straight match with a 25-8, 25-8, 25-10 West Virginia Conference volleyball victory against Bluefield State on Wednesday evening at a noisy Bluefield Middle School gymnasium.
Jones, one of three 6-footers, and one of eight Lady Lions standing 5-10 or taller, led Concord with eight kills, while 6-0 Jasmin Sutherland and 5-11 Kylie Perdue had five apiece. Concord had 38 kills to nine for the Blues.
Amanda Walker had three of Concord’s nine aces, and also had 12 assists, second only to the 14 from Nikki McMillian. The Lady Lions had 31 assists to nine for the Blues. Erin Asbury had seven digs, while Allie Pennington added five in the win.
Concord dominated the game at the net with its height and hitting prowess.
“We are getting better and better, there is no doubt about it,” said Concord head coach Kate Southcott, whose Mountain Lions (6-9, 1-0) have won three in a row after losing eight straight.
“The eight in a row we lost, some of them we lost in five sets and we were grinding,” Southcott said. “We were getting better and better, we just didn’t pull them out. The three in a row are teams we scheduled where you need a few in there where you are going to push by.
“I am getting to play everybody, I am seeing that I have got some potential in the freshman class right that might not get to play again for a while. It is going good, winning three in a row is good for us after those losses.”
Bluefield State (0-6, 0-2) continues to struggle on the court, losing its 51st straight match dating back to a win over Concord in 2010, the Blues’ lone win that season.
Carmelo Eleutiza, who has taken over the Bluefield State program, has coached the sport for 24 years, but is in his first season at the college level.
“I have to be honest, we were able to put a team together this year,” Eleutiza said. “Some of them are players, some of them are softball and some are basketball players. One thing that I can say about my team, it doesn’t matter how we are losing, they keep fighting and for being the first year the program will improve.
“I have not come here to have losing seasons every year. We already have some girls coming for next year so hopefully we will do better.”
Natalie Ramos and Kendria Perkins had three kills each for the Blues, while Annie Conklin dished out eight assists and contributed three digs. Kristen Hutchinson added two aces and three digs, while Courtney Bowlus joined Perkins with four digs each.
After a 6-6 tie to open the first game, the Lions scored 19 of the next 21 points to finish off the Blues.
Concord then used a 10-1 run to pull away in the middle game, and Bluefield State was finally able to reach double figures in points before the match ended in the third.
“In that last set I had four freshmen in there. We have been building for a couple of years now,” said Southcott, who has six freshmen and just one senior on her roster. “I finally feel like we have built it up to be competitive and we have to prove it now.”
A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Eleutiza has spent the last eight years in Orlando before getting the opportunity at Bluefield State. He has also coached in semi-pro leagues and been an assistant in professional leagues.
“I felt it was time for me to move to this level, this is my dream job and I am glad that it is here,” Eleutiza said. “It is a good challenge because right now I have a tough assignment, but I guess God put me in this situation and He is going to help me through it and make it better and I guarantee I will make it better...
“I had the opportunity to come to Bluefield, West Virginia and I am very grateful for this opportunity.”
Southcott has an eye toward improvement in the WVIAC. Concord won 15 games last season and she would like to improve the Lions’ final place in the standings prior to the postseason tournament in November.
“We could end up 10th like we have been ranked and that would be the highest standing we have ever come at in the tournament so that would be good,” Southcott said. “I would like eighth so we can host the first round, but we are just trying to go one match at a time right now.
“The conference is here now, and hopefully we get to play some people just to see our potential.”
Eleutiza simply wants to build a program, which has won seven games over the last five seasons, including an 0-25 mark last season and 0-22 in 2007. The Blues won once in 2010, and three times each in 2008-09.
Southcott would like to see Bluefield State improve under the tutelage of Eleutiza, who plans to stay for a while, adding some much needed stability to a long-suffering program.
“That is one my goals, I have been getting killed this year and right now I have got some girls coming to play next year so I want to people to see that I am here to stay,” Eleutiza said. “I want to build a program.
“I am struggling right now, but I want to be here when the good times come.”
—Contact Brian Woodson
C U later Bluefield State.
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